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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  December 5, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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emirates and dubai. we're going to put our interview with sheikh and ruler of dubai on our website. we look forward to your comments about what you think about democracy and ruling and what you think about dubai. please let us know. we're looking forward to hearing tonight the gingrich surge. >> if i do become the nominee, we're going to compete in all 50 states. >> looks like republicans have a new crush on newt. but could they actually be playing to president obama's hands? who would he rather run against, gingrich or mitt romney? i'll talk to the man behind the president's re-election strategy, david axle rod. her story was the beginning of the end for the herman cain campaign. last time she was here was this -- >> i had goal was simply to get him to admit the wrong doing. >> well he didn't. what does sharon bialek think now? >> he has no one to blame but himself. >> she was first to speak out
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against herman cain. now she's back live. plus the man who always knows which way the winds are blowing, political or otherwise. what you may not know about america's favorite weatherman. this is "piers morgan tonight." good evening. the gop has really been the elephant in the room of american politics as the party's front-runners play a game of political musical chairs, with perry, michele bachmann, herman cain, now newt gingrich's turn. listen to what he said today after a meeting with donald trump. >> i want -- not yet. he's got to do this debate. >> and a trump endorsement isn't the only one in play, even though the cain train has run off the rails, the former candidate's endorsement could come any day. there's only one man who knows what it means for the president's re-election campaign and that's david axelrod who joins me now. welcome.
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>> good to be with you, piers. >> you're feeling fairly chipper, aren't you? you had an extraordinary week, unemployment dropping below 9% for the first time in the president's reign at the white house and coming at the same time when the resurgent stock market saw its highest week's performance since 2009. you would imagine that there's been a bit of momentum here the right way for you economically. >> well, you know, piers, any good news is welcome. we're not chipper by any means because there are people still struggling all over this country and because we have a longer range goal which is not just to put people back to work but to make sure that work pays, to see the middle class growing again. we have a lot of work to do. but any good news is welcome. and we're going to keep working. the most important thing right now for us is to continue that momentum by extending the
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payroll tax cut that's been bottled up by the republicans in congress. that's very important. people don't want to face a thousand dollar tax increase on january 1st. there's a million jobs at stake here for the economy. so we're working hard to try and resolve that. >> there's a real kind of ideological split here, isn't there? because the democrats, the president believe fundamentally that in times of economic crisis like this, the rich should pay a little bit more and those who don't earn very much money should be protected. the republicans have been completely intransigent. they do not believe almost to a man or woman that any tax increases at all despite the fact that you have people like warren buffett, one of america's richest men, almost pleading, tax me more. what do you think, when it comes to the election background that you're a pivotal member of the obama campaign, when you see this divide now being so clearly laid out, what do you think the average american is going to think of the debate?
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>> well, first of all, let me just correct one thing you said. you said the republicans don't believe in any tax increases at all. so far what the republicans have said is that they'd be willing to raise taxes on 160 million working americans in order to avoid raising any kind of tax, not one dollar on millionaires, 300,000 millionaires. it's not that they don't want to raise taxes. they just don't want to raise taxes on the affluent. the you're trying to stimulate the economy, it's putting money in the pockets of people that don't have it and will spend it that's going to make the difference. every economist agrees, giving more tax breaks to the upper income folks or taking a little more from them, that's not going to affect the economy. what's going to affect the economy is put money in the pockets of working people who are struggling in this economy. >> people say to me about president obama that, you know, he is itching to do
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fundamentally bigger things, but he feels like his hands have been tied behind his back by the republicans, by their refusal to do the proper kind of deals you would expect in washington. you've been around the block a long time in d.c. is that a valid thing to say? is it particularly bad now? or has the president not played his hand very well? >> well, i think that the republican party has made a decision. and senator mcconnell long ago laid it out when he said that their principal mission for the next two years was to defeat the president. i think they've behaved as if that is their principal mission. i think the american people want the principal mission of congress and the president to work together and accelerate the recovery and in the long run build an economy in which hard work pays and responsibility is rewarded. there are specific things we can do to do this. this is where we have a disagreement.
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we believe that improving education in this country and really setting some big goals in that regard is absolutely essential in that, investing in innovation and research and development, absolutely essential for that. the republican view is the one we've heard before, which is if we cut taxes for the wealthy, roll back the rules on wall street, let them write their own rules that somehow everybody will profit from that. that's how the debate will play out. every single republican candidate for president embraces that way of thinking. >> what do you think, david, has gone wrong with the american business model when you actually analyze it in a sort of overview? what went wrong? clearly successive administrations have all conspired, not deliberately but has happened to create this appalling financial situation that america found itself in, $14 trillion in debt and so on. what went wrong with the way
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that america used to do business so successfully? >> well, let me say a few things. let's separate out issues. in terms of the deficits, when president clinton left office in 2001, we had a projected $2 trillion surplus for the next ten years. the next president, president bush, decided that he would return that money in the form of tax cuts skewed to the very wealthy. we had two wars that they decided not to pay for. a medicare prescription drug program they decided not to pay for. and it turns out if you do all those things, you're going to create large deficits. so when president obama walked in the door there was a trillion deficit and an economic crisis that added to the -- added to the bill along with the steps we needed to take to try to deal with that. so i mean, that's how it happened. it's not mysterious. the question is what are we going to do about it and are we going to proceed in a responsible way? because 8 million people lost
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their jobs as a result of the recession. i didn't mention the collapse of wall street around these subprime mortgages and the lack of regulatory oversight there. now we have to -- you know, how are we going to rebuild our economy, how are we going to recover, but also how are we going to deal with that long-term debt to leave us room for the investments we need for innovation and infrastructure? that's the debate we're having. that's why it comes down to are we going to make the right choices? are tax cuts for the very wealthy more valuable in terms of our ability to grow than investing in those things and paying down the debt? the president feels that these other things are more important in terms of our ability to grow. so these problems that took years to develop. they were, as you point out, the result of some bad decisionmaking. we can reverse those things, but we'd like to see cooperation from the other side in doing that.
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>> very people spend as much time discussing this kind of thing with the president than you do. what is you and him and maybe a few others in the room and you're being critical of your own performance as an administration, where are you most critical on yourselves? >> you know, if i were -- i'm not going to speak for him. i think that since september we've much more aggressively involved the american people in this discussion, and i think that's been a profitable thing. if we were guilty of anything, i think when we took office, we were really an economic triage unit. remember when we arrived, the quarter before we arrived, the economy shrunk by almost 9%. the worst quarter since 190. the month we arrived the country was losing jobs. the stock market would soon be at 6500. it would bottom out there in
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kind of an appalling slide, that's what we faced, a secondary depression. we were trying to deal with trying to save the american auto industry, trying to keep the financial system from collapsing. and i don't think we did a good a job as we could have in communicating directly with the american people and enlisting the american people in these efforts. talking to the american people about where we ultimately were heading. and that fundamental goal of how we rebuild the economic security the middle class has lost, which will take some time, but absolutely has to be the goal. i don't think we did as good a job on that. i said in a very self-critical way because i was in the white house in those two years. but we did a better job in the last five months, and we'll continue doing that when we move forward. >> when we come back, we'll talk about your strategy to get
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president obama re-elected and the lineup of your potential rival as it hots up. >> happy to do it. [ female announcer ] the humana walmart-preferred rx plan gives you the lowest plan premium in the country... so you can focus on what really matters.
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the most amazing thing about yo-yo ma is that everybody likes him. you got give me some tips. that's remarkable. >> from the kennedy center honors last night. the man who is responsible for getting president obama re-elected david axelrod. when you watch the president like that, i always feel he's got so many plus, doesn't he? he's personable, he's handsome, he can be funny. abroad he has this great image for america. but a lot of things are just perfect about barack obama. the frustration that a lot of his supporters have felt is that he hasn't sort of beaten his chest metaphorically enough as leader. is that part of finding your feet as president. it slightly engulfs you buffer -- before you get the pace of it, at the moment he isn't seen for the big idea. >> i think part of it is what i
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said to you earlier. we were faced both here at home with the economic crisis and abroad with two wars, tremendous challenges when he arrived. there wasn't a lot of time for breast beating. by the way, no matter what he has accomplished, people around the country are going through a difficult time. there's a lot of anxiety. and so i think they're less interested in him claiming credit than they are in him doing the work. and that's what interests him as well. and that's what he's going to continue to do. i believe, piers, that when campaigns are a place in which you have a chance to run through those things, both what you've done and where you're going. and to compare and contrast that with the other side. and i think -- i'm very, very confident that when we make that case, the american people are going to respond to it. >> let's turn to the
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republicans. there have been lots of front-runners. the steady eddie has been mitt romney, but he's kind of plateaued at 24, 25% in most of the polls you see, suggesting even the republicans aren't that convinced with him. newt gingrich is on a roll at the moment as the new apparent front-runner from all the recent polls. what do you make of what's been going on? how credible is the swing at the moment from, say, romney to gingrich? who do you, when you're planning for campaign, most fear and perhaps are most, you know, looking forward to taking on? >> well, it's hard to read because, as you say, it's been a really volatile situation. i think the problem for governor romney, he's steady eddie except in his positions. that's what's made people in that party nervous and making americans a little bit quizzical. even today he now has endorsed the president's idea of extending the payroll tax cut, but he opposed it -- he's opposed it and been for it
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several times back and forth. this has been a consistent story with governor romney, and it has created disquiet in his own base and among other voters who wonder where he's going to be from day to day. i think there has been a rotating group of non-romneys as his support has begun to sink, really. he's now third place in iowa, well below where he was four years ago when he ran there. as for speaker gingrich, you know, we'll see. now becomes the difficult test for him because he really hasn't been scrutinized since the spring when he was sort of written off in this race. the one thing i'll tell you is that he is running an ad in iowa that talks about how he's going to bring the country together to solve problem. i don't think there's any single person in this country that did more to create the kind of discord in washington that we see today than newt gingrich. he's really the godfather of
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gridlock. he was the one who really created an environment in which people started treating each other as enemies and not as opponents here in washington. he was the one who shut the government down three times when he was trying to close the department of education and to defund the epa and cut medicare in order to give tax cuts to the wealthy. he was the one who led to the impeachment of a president, and now he's offering himself as someone who can bring the country together. i think that's going to be a hard sell. >> come on, then, cards on the table. if i can give you gingrich or romney to take on the president, who would you prefer? >> you know, i want to watch this because i'm learning things about them every day, and it's a very interesting race. i think it should go on for quite a while so that we can get the measure of the both of them. and i'll come back maybe in late spring and we can talk about it again.
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>> okay. and by the way, whichever one you would have said, i would have automatically assumed that that's the one that you don't want to be running against you. probably best you don't answer it. >> i was on to you, piers, so i wasn't going to play. >> david axelrod, as always, thank you very much. >> great to be with you. thank you. coming up, the woman whose story was the beginning of the end for herman cain's campaign. sharon bialek is here live. usa prime credit... this peggy... hi, i'm cashing in my points... peggy? no more points - coupons now. coupons? coupons. coupons? next, you convert coupons to tokens. tokens? then you trade tokens for credits. and then i get the cash? then you call back. bye bye. peggy? hello? what just happened?
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i am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family. not because we are not fighters. not because i'm not a fighter. >> that's herman cain this weekend making it official. the cain train is off the rail. just weeks ago he was riding high in the polls, then came the sexual harassment claims including the only woman who went public sharon bialek. herman cain denied, you may
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remember, even knowing her. she came on the show first. and she joins me again tonight, another exclusive appearance with her attorney gloria allred. sharon what was your reaction when you heard that herman cain was suspending his campaign? >> piers, you know me, you might think that i might have been elated at that. it was kind of bittersweet in that, yes, i was happy that he suspended it. but it saddened me because even though he did so, he still has not spoken the truth. he's trying to blame these -- everything that's happened on everyone else except the one person that he should blame it on and that's himself. >> yeah, but it was a fairly extraordinary exit speech and i watched it live like many people did. it was superconfident. it was amusing. he had his wife with him. people were chanting his name.
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the general feeling he's only going because the terrible media reporting all these outrageous lies, but it's not as simple as that, is it? >> no, it's not. not at all. i think there is a part of him that deep down inside knew it wasn't because, you know, the libya thing. i really truly believe that once ms. white came out, ginger white came out and the alleged 13-year affair, i think that was the final straw. and i want to say that i'm very, very pleased that she came out because part of my reason, piers, in doing that, taking this road was to actually get more women to come out. i had no idea ginger white existed, but i'm glad that she did. >> yeah, honestly he tried to chuck a lot of mud in your direction, implying you were doing this for financial motives that even those you said you haven't tried to sell your story. clearly, you know, there is an option to do that, i guess going
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forward now people know who you are and so on. and there's this story that you've been threatened with eviction, you're in arrears on your rental and that kind of stuff. has any of the motivation for what you've done been driven by the need for money? >> i want to make it really clear, piers, and in the words of fellow brits, it's a bunch of bullocks. i didn't come forward for any kind of financial gain. i came forward because ten years from now had he gone further in the race and perhaps even been elected president, i would have always regretted doing and speaking my mind and telling the truth. and that's why i came forward. for nothing else. i'm not doing a book. i have nothing in the works to do a book. and i have not profited one iota from this. >> were you surprised to see,
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gloria, herman cain's wife smiling and holding his hand as if nothing happened given the volume of women who came forward with harassment claims or in the case of ginger white, the affair? >> no, piers, i was saddened for her, and i'm sure that she's very hurt in all this. and we all feel blade for her. but the person, of course, that has hurt her is herman cain. and we would hope that he would come forward and be honest and straightforward with the american public. in other words, come clean about what he has done instead of calling all five women who made these allegations liar, which is absolutely outrageous. for him, for example, to say that the woman who alleges that she had a 13-year affair with him and that he paid for certain items for her, which he admits doing, but then he denies that there was an affair. it just doesn't pass the smell test. he needs to give the details of
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all of what happened in that relationship and he needs to, as far as sharon's concerned, acknowledge what happened with them, that he did, in fact, know her. that he did, in fact, have a relationship with her and what exactly happened during that relationship. unfortunately, he has not decided to come clean. one last thing. he's the one who has the financial motive, not ginger white. not sharon bialek. because he's the one who is out there trying to sell books and make money from that. he's the one who is trying to rake in dollars or did try to rake them in and successfully raked in substantial amounts into his campaign fund by denying these allegations. so let's talk about his financial motive. >> sharon, let me turn back to you. do you accept as some of herman cain's supporters say, interviewed his attorney lin wood about this, that there remains no hard evidence to substantiate what you say and in the end people have to kind of work out who they believe, you
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or him? >> you know, i listened to you last week, piers, with the lin wood interview. and one of the thing that i found interesting or fascinating, i should say was he made reference to the fact that people shouldn't -- people like myself, i would imagine he was referring to, shouldn't come forward unless they have substantial proof and make character assassinations. well, you know, if you turn the tables that's exactly what the cain camp did to me by calling me a, quote, troubled woman. what woman isn't troubled at times? but going back to the character assassination, that's exactly what they did, so touche. >> to the point that you raised, we did present evidence. we presented a witness and that was dr. victor zuckerman, a pediatrician who was sharon's boyfriend when she met herman cain years ago. and dr. zuckerman was with her
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and had a conversation with sharon and with mr. cain and mr. cain invited both of them upstairs to the after-party in the suite and they had a very cordial conversation at some length. that's why later it was dr. zuckerman, by the way, a registered republican, as sharon is, who suggested to sharon that she contact mr. cain to seek his assistance in employment. the fact that herman cain denies knowing sharon, and we did show evidence to support our claim. >> you have a teenaged son. and you've been through the mincer, to put it mildly in the last couple of weeks. you had your reputation -- people tried to trash it and they said unpleasant things about you. how is it being on a human level for you going public? do you have any regrets. does your son wish you hadn't done it? do you worry about the repercussions now? >> piers, i'm glad you asked
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that because the most important thing in my life is my son, and i don't want him harmed. he's handling it very well. i think the more people that have come forward on the street, we were walking to the grocery store and they tap me on the shoulder, men and women will come up and congratulate me for coming out and supporting me on such a sensitive issue, sexual harassment. he said, mom, what did they say to you? he understands that this is a very important issue and he supports me. i hope ten years from now he'll really get it. i know he's only 13. but ten years, i hope he understands that women need to come forward. yes, it has been hard on me. anyone who knows me knows that when i'm very adamant about something, it's hard to let it go. i didn't want to let such an important issue be cast off to the wayside and not speak up. whatever happened has happened. yes, it's been difficult.
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but i believe it's been worth it. >> piers, these are legitimate issues. the fact that the cain campaign says that some of these issues involve privacy is patently absurd, honesty and character will always be an issue for anyone who strive to be president of the united states. all of the issues raised by these women are issues that the cain campaign should have answered and been mort forthright in their responses. >> okay. gloria allred and sharon bialek, thank you very much. >> thank you. when we come back, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does it with quite the panache of my next question, the legendary al roker. so who ordered the cereal that can help lower cholesterol and who ordered the yummy cereal? yummy. [ woman ] lower cholesterol. [ man 2 ] yummy.
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for the next 48 hours, we could be talking to a half inch to an inch. some areas may pick up more. that's what's going on around the country. here's what's happening in your neck of the woods. >> weatherman extraordinaire al roker on nbc's "today" show. one thing i learned is americans love to talk about weather. and they particularly love to watch al roker walking about weather. he's the co-host of the "today" show and an author of a book "the talk show murders." it is out tomorrow. i'm delighted to say that al roker is joining me now. welcome. >> thank you so much for having me. this is great. i love the disco lights. i saw jane fonda dancing on the squares early. this is fantastic. >> well, look, let's talk weather.
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>> okay. >> because as a brit who has come to live in america, i find the obsession with the weather particularly, i have to say, from the new yorkers i know, just fundamentally weird. why are americans so obsessed with weather? >> well, because unlike britain, we actually have weather. you guys are either in tubes or in fog. and otherwise you really have nothing to talk about. whereas here, across the great expanse that we know as the united states of america, we have all sorts of weather. we have santa ana winds which you just experienced. you got to admit that was -- >> tell me about it. >> -- pretty amazing. >> it's definitely true, you have these weird extremes. >> we do. >> i've been blown out of my bed here in los angeles from an earthquake -- >> we don't want to go into that, do we now? >> leave it to you. but i remember thinking, wow, an earthquake just blowed me out of my bed.
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the santa ana winds were all over the place. i went to new york i remember this time last year and there were 18-inch snowdrifts overnight, tornadoes and hurricanes. on it goes, somewhere in america at any given time there is this extremity of weather, isn't there? >> there really is, which is why this is a great job. because there's always something to talk about. and, you know, we're in the midst of -- you know, i think most would agree -- some sort of climate change. what's causing it? that's up to debate. but we are seeing more extreme swings in weather. and so our job, not to scare people, but to keep them apprised of what's going on. and more and more, the weather tends to lead the newscast, whether on "nightly news" or the "today" show or whatever. there is weather. and it's our gig to tell people about it. >> why do you think people love to hear bad news, which it
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normally is, from al roker? >> well, because i think, you know, it's kind of like -- again, another one of your well -- best loved brits mary poppins i think once said, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down. so you know, we have a good time. when the weather's severe, we're severe about it. we're serious about it. but you know, when it's not. we try to have a good time. there you see me getting a hug from mike seidel from the weather channel. we're still seeing each other. it's nice. >> the other extraordinary thing about those in america is when it gets really bad, the weather, the first thing that people like you and your colleagues do is run out into the middle of it so that you can be filmed getting attacked by tornadoes and hurricanes or wading out to sea in the middle of one of these
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huge storms. i'm like why are you doing this? why do you have to be out there when you're clearly putting your lives at risk? what's the matter with you? >> here's the deal. believe me, if i thought i was putting my life at risk, seriously, i would not do it. i have never doing this weather, doing stuff outside have i ever felt that my life was on the line. because, as much as i like -- love my job at nbc, i'm not risking my life for that. but you know, look, anything could happen. look, in that studio where you are there in los angeles, anything could happen right now. any -- a light could fall and crush you like a bug. and what would happen? >> i remember seeing geraldo in the middle of a hurricane out to sea, and he was reading out tweets somehow. one of them was, hey, geraldo, what's plan b? and i wanted him to tweet into the show say get out of the water would be plan b, wouldn't
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it? >> there is that. how long have you been here, piers, in america? >> i've spent about four months of a year here until this year. this year i've been here pretty much the entire year. so i have begun to understand it better. >> it's hurricane. >> not in my country, we don't. >> well, we're not in our country now. >> i wasn't employed to be an american. >> but you know what i will say this it sounds classier when you say it. >> route. we have routes where we come from. no routes. >> a route is usually what happens to the new york giants here. >> yes, a rout is what we did to msnbc's ratings every night. >> oh, ka-jing, bazinga! >> let's turn talking of routs to politics -- >> that's obviously my metier. >> exactly. you know what? i suspect it probably is a lot
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more than people think. i reckon you're one of those guys that gets up in the morning -- although you have to talk about is weather, what you'd really like to talk about is what's happened with herman cain. what do you make of what's going on politically in your country? >> you know, it's one of these things, that i feel bad for mitt romney. here's this guy who i think has been really grooming himself for this, and he's like the guy -- the date that everybody thinks, well, he'll be my backup because the new person comes in, oh, we love this, oh, we love that. and mitt is standing by. but you know what? i'll give him credit, he just hangs in there. he said, i'm going to be here. i'm going to be here. eventually, you're going to come to me. that's how it worked with my wife. you know? eventually, she came to me. i was the last man standing. >> when we come back after the break, al, i'll talk to you about your wife and the extraordinary decision she made to marry you.
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ready to light the tree? okay. here we go. >> five, four, three, two one.
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[ cheers ] ♪ >> that was from last week's christmas at rockefeller center. al roker hosted the tree lighting live on nbc. about time they renamed that place the roker-feller center. >> i've been trying to get them to do that. they won't do it. i don't understand why. i grew up here in new york city. and i remember in 1963, my dad bringing me down, my family down to see -- we went to the radio city christmas show, then saw the tree. in my wildest dreams i never thought i would host the lighting of the rockefeller center christmas tree. and that's why this is the greatest country in the world. that i can end up doing this. unbelievable. >> more importantly you're hosting it with that delightful woman in the red velvet there, al. >> all right, set down, piers. yikes, wow. man. you went there -- i didn't even have to wait, tick, tick, tick,
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and he's there. boom. >> let's move to the second most successful african-american in america, barack obama. what did you make of the incredible moment that he became president? and on a score sheet, if you were the head teacher marking barack obama, how do you think he's really done? forget all the kind of spin and hype and headlines, what do you personally feel? >> well, look, personally from just a standpoint, from an american standpoint, from being an american, seeing this happen i think was just a momentous occasion in this country. and i think no matter where you fall in the spectrum, i just think that if you step back and look at this for what it stood for and stands for today, i think it's still an amazing accomplishment. that said, look, it's a difficult run. the partisan politics in our country probably greater than
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any time. members of congress and the senate on both sides of the aisle that would like to do the right thing, but ink they feel beholding to their party's interests. and i think the president pays a price for that. well, you know, i mean, but that's what he was elected for. it's the toughest job in the world. and so, you know, no crying in the white house. you're just going to have to get it done. so i think, you know, if you look at some of the things that have happened, i think there's some positives. on the other hand, there's some negatives. he's just going to have to soldier on and hopefully things get better. >> talking of toughest jobs in the world and soldiering on, let's move to your marriage, al. you're married to abc news correspondent -- >> the networks have three letters in our country, piers, cnn, fox. >> let me try again, abc news, "20/20" correspondent. >> thank you.
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>> to quote a famous chat show star in america, what was she thinking? >> you know, it was a bet. she was out with some girlfriends, got drunk, and the next thing you know, boom, here we are. 16 years later. but seriously -- she is a terrific person. she's a wonderful mom. she does amazing reporting. and -- but i don't think what people realize is she's got an amazing sense of humor. they see this very serious journalist that does amazing reports. she's one of the funniest people i know. >> are you one of these guys that takes your work home with you? do you give morning meteorlogical reports, it's going to be stormy today? >> no. debra and the kids will say, you know, i hear they say it's supposed to be sunny. i'm they. what is this they say. a prophet knows no honor in his
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own home. crazy. >> you have two daughters and a son. >> yes, i do. >> when you all get together now for the family holidays and stuff, what do you have to do to get away from it, you work incredibly hard, you're running your own company, you have your own weather channel as well as the today show. what do you do to unwind? >> this weekend we went to see hugo, picked out our christmas tree. you know, i drive a minivan. we have a pretty normal life. we do the same things everybody else does. i sometimes for fun and profit, i come around and work on your estate. but for the most part -- the last -- the last time i saw piers it was at the golden globes at jeffrey katzenberg's party. he's running around going, i've got this one, he's going to be
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on the show. i've got -- it's unbelievable. everybody says they're coming on. i thought, somebody's going to have to put a tranquilizer dart in this guy. >> at least one of them kept their promise. >> i told you i would come. >> it was -- those kind of events were a target rich environment. >> it is. >> a whole load of a-listers trapped in one place, they can't get away from me for about an hour. >> i tell you, i was in that room. and i'm thinking -- i'm in this room with all these people, and i lost my parents over the last few years, this is the kind of thing i would call my mom afterwards and say, i met this one and this one and this one. it's a great life. i think you would agree, we lead a very blessed life. >> we certainly do. i want to come back after the break and talk about your book, this sinister tone that appears
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to be -- unless i'm wrong, a kind of metaphor for you wanting to murder matt lauer? >> no, it's a talk show host that gets murdered. i habe a cohd.
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al roker talked about michelle obama. she's getting a little testy.
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>> does the president have to worry about the boxing part? >> sometimes when he sees me punching, he kind of -- >> i love that. i don't know how they do that, it's amazing. >> it was a clip from nbc's "tonight show" michelle obama giving you a pretty mean left hook there and reflecting the views of an ungrateful nation. >> she really is a commanding presence, and i think doing a great job. i think some people have kind of demonized you. she's the food police. i think, you know, look, she talks about balance. she eats french fries, but you balance it out with healthy eating. i don't think there's anything wrong with that. >> talking about eating french fries, i can't help but notice some of the pictures we've been showing throughout the show were you in your larger days.
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>> i was a big guy, i enjoyed eating. it really wasn't until i was confronted with my dad's passing, and he made me promise to lose weight because he wasn't going to be there to help raise his grandkids. i got very serious about it ten years ago, i had a gastric bypass, i didn't make any secret about it. it's still a constant struggle. i feel better about it that i'm not going back to that ever again. >> let's get balk to this book. it involves the murder of a talk show host. matt lauer is one removed from a talk show host. clearly a euphemism for you wanting matt lauer's job, isn't it? >> no, matt lauer can have his job, i hope he stays in it another dozen years because i have these kids to put through college.
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it's set in chicago, and the talk show host is not murdered. i grew up reading great murder mysteries, my mom was a fan of the murder mystery from rex stowden, and ellery queen. that's kind of what i grew up on and have the always wanted to two this. i work with this great writer who's a terrific mystery writer, we talk about the idea, they always say write something you know, i know about morning tv, i know about cooking. i've always wanted to be a chef. and i know about morning show hosts. that's how billy blessing evolved. in the third one, he's on a talk show. he's in chicago for his morning show wakeup america, and they're doing a remote from there and he gets involved in a couple murders which, you know, that's part of his --